The Permissible Parameters of Non-Compete Agreements

Non-compete agreements are a common practice in many industries, particularly for high-level executives and employees who have access to confidential information and trade secrets. These agreements restrict employees from working for a competitor or starting their own competing business for a certain period of time after leaving their current employer. However, there are permissible parameters that must be followed to ensure the enforceability of these agreements.

Geographical and Time Limits

One of the most important parameters for non-compete agreements is the geographical and time limits that are imposed on employees. The restriction should only apply to a specific geographic area where the employer operates or has a legitimate business interest. For example, if a company only operates within a certain city or region, it would not be reasonable to restrict an employee from working for a competitor in a completely different state or country.

Similarly, the time limit should be reasonable and not excessively long. In most cases, a non-compete agreement should not exceed two years from the date of termination. This is because longer time limits may be viewed as unfair and unreasonable, particularly if the employee`s skills and experience become outdated during this period.

Employee`s Job Scope

Another important parameter to consider is the scope of the employee`s job. Non-compete agreements should only be applied to employees who have access to confidential information and trade secrets, or who hold a key position that gives them a significant advantage over competitors. For instance, a sales executive who has access to a company`s client list and pricing information should not be allowed to work for a competitor.

In contrast, a junior employee who has no access to confidential information and performs general administrative tasks should not be subject to a non-compete agreement. This is because the employee`s departure is unlikely to cause significant harm to the employer`s business interests.


Consideration is a critical parameter for non-compete agreements. This refers to the benefits or compensation that are provided to employees in exchange for agreeing to the restrictions. Employers must provide adequate consideration to employees, such as a signing bonus, incentive pay, or additional severance pay, which reflects the value of the employee`s agreement to the restrictions. The consideration must be commensurate with the level of restriction imposed and the employee`s position within the company.


Non-compete agreements can be a valuable tool for businesses to protect their trade secrets and confidential information. However, employers must follow permissible parameters when drafting these agreements to ensure that they are enforceable and reasonable. These parameters include reasonable geographical and time limits, limitations on the scope of the employee`s job, and adequate consideration for the restrictions. By adhering to these parameters, businesses can effectively protect their intellectual property while also respecting the rights of their employees.

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